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Dorn Encouraged by Increase in Test Scores
Second year of Smarter Balanced testing completed Spring 2016

OLYMPIA — August 16, 2016 — Scores on state tests taken in Spring 2016 improved as much as three percentage points from 2015.

The results – which include the Smarter Balanced tests in English language arts and math, as well as the science Measurements of Student Progress tests – were released today during a news conference.

This is the second year students took the Smarter Balanced tests. Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction, said he was pleased with the improvement shown in every grade. “We see the growth from last year’s baseline scores across the board in both ELA and math,” he said. “That’s a testament to the great work done by all school employees and by our students.”

Grades 3-8
Scores increased in every grade across both ELA and math, from 2.8 percentage points in eighth grade ELA to 1.1 percentage points in fifth grade math.

Percent of students proficient

Percent of students proficient, 2015-16











3 56.758.92.2
4 54.657.02.4
5 57.660.12.5
6 45.548.02.5
7 56.958.51.6
8 56.959.72.8

Measurements of Student Progress tests in science were taken by fifth and eighth graders. The percentage of proficient eighth graders increased by 7.2 percentage points (67.5 percent in 2016 compared to 60.3 percent in 2015). For fifth graders, the increase was 2.2 percentage points (65.3 percent in 2016 compared to 63.1 percent in 2015).

High School
High school students are required to take the Smarter Balanced ELA and math tests in 11th grade but can take them in 10th grade. A student who earns a Level 3 or 4 is considered “college and career ready” in that area. That means the student will not have to take remedial classes in college. Remedial classes cost money but don’t earn credits toward a degree.

Students who earn a Level 3 or 4 in 10th grade do not have to take that test in 11th grade; instead, their scores are “rolled forward.”

For the Class of 2017, three out of four students (75.5 percent) are college and career ready in ELA as they enter their senior year, compared to one out of four students (26.1 percent) of the Class of 2016 as they entered their senior year. The 75.5 percent includes students who met as 10th graders and those who met as 11th graders. In math, the proficiency rate for the Class of 2017 is 21.8 percent, compared to 13.7 percent of the Class of 2016.

Students in the Class of 2018 – 10th graders in Spring 2016 – also performed well on the Smarter Balanced ELA test. A total of 70.8 percent who tested met the college- and career-ready standard in ELA and 55.0 percent met the same standard in math.

Schools tested 97-98 percent of their students in grades 3-8, with no more than 3 percent of students in any single grade refusing to take the tests. For 11th graders, the refusal rate was larger. Including students who passed the test as 10th graders in 2015, 11th grade participation in the ELA test was 88.1 percent and 61.4 percent in the math test. By comparison, the participation rates in 2015 were 53.3 percent for ELA and 49.6 percent for math.

Assessments as Graduation Requirements
Students in the Class of 2016 need to have met standard on ELA and math assessments. They could use either the previous state tests (the High School Proficiency Exams), end-of-course tests or the Smarter Balanced tests to fulfill their assessment graduation requirements. The threshold scores for graduation are lower than those for career and college readiness and were established by the State Board of Education August 5, 2015.

About eight out of every nine students (88.9 percent) of 12th graders in the Class of 2016 have fulfilled their assessment graduation requirements. Of the students who have not, 2.4 percent still need to pass math, 2.5 percent still need to meet ELA and about 6 percent still need to pass both ELA and math. Students can continue in school until they fulfill the requirements (until they turn 21 years of age).

Students in the classes of 2017 and beyond need to meet standard on ELA, math, and biology assessments. The threshold scores for graduation, described above, can be used for Smarter Balanced tests.

A total of 72.1 percent of the Class of 2017, entering their senior year, have fulfilled all of their assessment graduation requirements (including biology). Of those who have not yet fulfilled the requirement; 10.9 percent just need to pass one more content area; 7.4 percent still need to pass two of the three content areas; and 9.5 percent still need to pass ELA, math and science before they can earn a diploma.

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About OSPI
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.

OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.

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Nathan Olson
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6015 |

More information

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The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 8/22/2016

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